April 26th is National Kids & Pets Day. Like several other pet events, it was created by Colleen Paige. The day is dedicated to creating awareness about safety between kids and pets. It’s also “dedicated to furthering the magical bond between kids and animals”.
The National Kids & Pets Day website encourages parents to never leave small children alone with pets that have the potential to cause them harm. Thousands of children each year are either injured or killed by family pets. Often, these traumatic events could have been avoided.
Wide Open Pets offers the below free posters (if credit is given to site) on how kids and pets SHOULD and SHOULD NOT interact with dogs. The first poster teaches kids how to be respectful to dogs, while the second teaches kids what actions will annoy dogs. Similar guidelines could be used for cats and other animals.
A third poster demonstrates how to read a dog’s body language, so the kids will know when to back off. I couldn’t find a visual for cats, but VetStreet notes these warning signs from cats: a swishing tail, a tail that’s fluffed out, or a tail that’s lowered to the ground or tucked underneath the cat. An anxious cat may also move her ears back, growl. or extend her claws.
On a more positive note, there are many reasons for kids to have pets. By caring for pets, kids learn how to be responsible, stay active, and become more social. Finally, pets often encourage confidence in children with emotional needs and/or learning disabilities.
Children that grow up with pets tend to be extremely nurturing and compassionate, making dedicated and loving parents and pet owners themselves. This, in turn, simply makes for a happier world.––Bill Strickland, Parent Magazine